On October 20, 2014, the European Union and the Republic of Tajikistan took part in their fourth Cooperation Council meeting, during which the European Commission released its decision to significantly expand its development aid to this developing Central Asian country. The Commission’s aid to Tajikistan will increase by €251 million from 2014 to 2020 and will go towards promoting growth and social stability, specifically in the areas of health, education, and rural development. €110 million of the funds will be allocated to rural development, €62.2 million to health, and €75 million to education and vocational training.
Sirodjidin Aslov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, led the Tajik delegation at the meeting. In addition to announcing the increase in funding for stability and development programs, the Cooperation Council “reaffirmed the commitment of both parties to strengthen relations” in various areas and assessed the progress that has been made since the last Cooperation Council between the EU and Tajikistan in October 2013. The Cooperation Council commended Tajikistan’s involvement in the EU’s regional initiatives for Central Asia and both the Council and the Tajik delegation advocated for a “comprehensive implementation of the EU Strategy for Central Asia both on a regional and national basis”.
Both parties discussed specific EU development initiatives, such as those focused on the Rule of Law, Education, and Environment. Several other topics which hold significant importance to the EU and Tajikistan were addressed during the meeting, including political and administrative reforms, human rights, trade and economic relations. In regard to economic programs, the Cooperation Council promoted the continued integration of Tajikistan into the global economy and the critical improvements to the country’s business and investment climate.
Finally, the EU underscored the need to ensure inclusive and transparent elections, which will help contribute to the country’s long term political stability. EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, stated that, “Ultimately, we hope to create the conditions for the country [Tajikistain] to become self-reliant.”
This expansion of aid resources for Tajikistan follows the Tajik Prime Minister Qohir Rasulzoda’s statement to the UN General Assembly in late September 2014 advocating for a stronger global development partnership. The Prime Minister pushed for improving the weaknesses of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in addition to establishing a new sustainable international development plan.